Plants that repel insects are frequently used for natural pest control through companion planting, which is the technique of growing diverse plants together to achieve specified results based primarily on anecdotal evidence.

Insects, like humans, have favorite diets, which they mainly find by scent. Planting onions amongst cabbages, for example, will confuse insects’ sense of scent and make it more difficult for them to find the smorgasbord. This means you won’t be able to plant in neat rows or vast blocks of a single vegetable, but it doesn’t take much to make a difference.

Do plants alone really repel mosquitoes and other nuisance insects in the garden? Here are some scientific explanations of how plants can repel insects, as well as a list of plants that have been proven to work.

Plants that Repel Mosquitoes

1. Citronella

This may not be a huge surprise, as citronella is a popular ingredient for natural mosquito repellents, patio candles, and more. But you might not know that citronella is actually a type of grass that you can plant in your yard. Most citronella products are made with the fragrant oil of the Expels plant. Research has shown that topical citronella products only last about two hours as the oils evaporate quickly. Leaving plants around is nice insurance against biting pests.

If you have a garden, make sure to space your citronella grass plants accordingly. They can grow up to six feet tall and six feet wide. The grass prefers filtered sunlight and frequent watering.

2. Lavender 

Lavender is known for its aroma that helps deter mosquitoes, and recent research suggests that lavender essential oils repel most mosquito species for up to eight hours. If you grow this fragrant plant around your home, it can also attract beneficial pollinators that produce an abundance of purple flowers.

Lavender plants should be planted 2 to 3 feet apart to give them room to grow, and they thrive in direct sunlight. Water the plants once or twice a week, depending on the dryness of the soil. 

3. Marigold

Although it may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to mosquito repellent, marigolds contain several insecticidal components (also known as compounds that repel several types of insects), which make them beloved by gardeners. Like other insect repellent plants, the scent of marigold flowers can help keep insects away.

In addition, this plant does not take up much space, is relatively low-maintenance and produces beautiful, colorful flowers all summer.

4. Nasturtium 

Nasturtium is an edible flower with colorful petals and appealing spherical leaves. Unlike other pest-repelling plants, garden cress attracts and separates (or repels) pests. It protects cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, and other vegetables from pests like aphids, beetles, and flies if you have a garden. This inhibits a perfect example of the relationship called companion planting.

Plant garden cress at least 10–12 inches apart since it can trace the entire open space of the garden. They do best in regions that receive 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Furthermore, those lovely blooms are entirely edible and can improve the appearance of the salad. 

5. Rosemary

Rosemary is a delicious and versatile herb that also contains oils that are effective mosquito repellents. Rosemary is easy to grow and many people grow it at home. This plant can do well in a garden, a window box, or even in your landscaping. Not only does having a rosemary plant around make it easier to season your food, but it also has a pleasant smell that helps to add flavor.

6. Basil

If you’re looking for another reason to have a basil plant near you this summer, we’ve got you covered. Basil leaves have chemicals that can kill mosquito larvae before they hatch, which might help to reduce the number of mosquitoes in your yard. Basil plants can help attract pollinators to help your yard and garden thrive, and their leaves make a delicious pesto. Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow and is a staple of the summer season, so make room for it in your yard.

7. Floss Flower

Some commercial insect repellent sprays use coumarin as a chemical, which is found in foss flowers. The smell of this chemical makes mosquitoes hate it, and it’s also in sweetgrass. The flowers of floss are attractive, producing blue, pink, and white blooms in the summer and fall. They do best in fertile soil in a rock garden, flower bed, or as an edging plant.

8. Mint

Mint is a fragrant herb that has been found to be effective in controlling pests. Menthol, the active ingredient in mint and peppermint oils, has biocidal properties that help keep pests away and control mosquito populations. This plant grows like a weed and is a great beginner plant. Growing it in its own pot will help to prevent it from spreading. Mint leaves can be used to make a variety of dishes, such as lemon, cucumber, and mint infused water or fresh mint chutney.

9. Catnip

Catnip includes nepetalactone, a molecule that attracts cats while repelling insects like mosquitoes, flies, deer ticks, and cockroaches. Catnip plants are easy to grow, and they are said to cause pain or itching in insects by activating a chemical receptor. In the spring or fall, you can either plant seeds or start plants from cuttings. It reaches a height of three to four feet and bears little lavender flowers. Catnip, on the other hand, may quickly grow invasive and take over your landscape. 

How Do Plants Protect Themselves from Insects?

Plants protect themselves by producing chemicals that repel insects. The smell of some flowers and herbs can help ward off bugs. High temperatures can cause the oil droplets to turn into vapors, losing their essential oils. The numerous globules on the underside of rosemary leaves are one of the best examples of this.

More Natural Ways to Keep Insects Away

To keep mosquitoes away, you can either grow plants that deter them or use tactics to control mosquitoes in your garden. The best you can do is prevent water from pooling and stagnating. Mosquitoes can lay hundreds of eggs in even a tiny spoonful of standing water. Mosquito Rings can be used virtually anywhere you have standing water-rain barrels, bird baths, water gardens, ponds, even animal waterers. They contain a bacterium that naturally kills mosquito larvae. There are other natural products available that can help keep mosquitoes away from your garden. These include citronella torches and candles, as well as essential oils derived from the plants listed here.

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